Art, Humanity, Poetry and Songs

A bad valentine


My love,  my dearest,
sultry goddess of my red seas
For you I should sail a thousand ships
and feed you the manna from the sky
But I am mortal, a rather incompetent one

So I struggle to tell you how much I adore you,
How my dreams and days converge when you are with me,
I struggle to tell you how I wait for the next meeting with you
But, know this, that I love you, like the last bloom of spring is loved,
Silently, and without drama, lest it might cause it to fall

by Harshad Karmalkar

Activities, and hobbies, Experience, Reflections and rumination, Travels & Treks

Tales from Banglore: Until we fall in love (Part 2)

A quick recap: I had gone on a trek to Skandagiri in August. The trek went horribly wrong, and after much deliberation, I decided to call it a day and return back in defeat. Check out the fir st part if you want to know the details.

Coming down from a mountain is like starting a new life in many ways. You have these memories with you, of a wonderful time, and yet you must move on to the next thing. On treks that don’t go so well, it becomes even more difficult to come to terms with the departure. It’s funny how I took longer to come down, than the climb itself. Maybe it’s because I took longer breaks. These breaks were not to replenish my energy, but to replenish my heart with hope. A part of me still wanted to complete the trek, and I though it’s the least I could do.  So I sat on a large stone, and tried to drink in the surroundings, played some music to ease my nerves. When you are all alone, the mind often starts seeing things that are not there. As I took my last break, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had been to a similar trek on past.

It was so long ago, maybe from another lifetime. I am not sure how credible the memory itself was. But I remembered travelling around a mountain like Skandagiri, not really planning to reach on the top, just drinking in the sights. It was with ‘her’. She loved adventures and so did I. That trek almost did not happen, and nothing seemed to work for us. We were ditched by friends, almost didn’t catch the train we were supposed to catch, and finally we were completely lost on our way. There was not a soul around to ask directions, and yet we walked on, happily drenched in the moment. We spotted a solitary pond on the way, and enjoyed some music without having to talk to each other. We didn’t talk much anyway. I remembered the song that we played then, and out of some silly notion I just played that song. I closed my eyes and just tried to go back in time, to feel the way that I felt back then. For a fleeting moment, I went back in time, with wind in my hair and warm music in my heart. The moment broke when I opened the eyes however.

I was back on a strange mountain, one that did not care for me. One that just wouldn’t love me back. I was miles away from the mountain I had been thinking about, miles away from the girl who was there with me, and there was a distance of at least a million light years between what I was back then, and what I am today. I didn’t know what to think, or do. So I sat on a large stone near the cliff, and just kept looking at the sky. I am very sure that I would have continued to do so had it not been for some movement from the bushes behind me. Now, I am not averse to the wild life, I love it very much. Having a brush with it’s nasty elements however is never a top priority. Also I was on the edge of the cliff, and it looked higher than it really was. Talk about being caught between a rock and hard place! I should be glad though, that this moment happened, it made me realize how much I love living, especially so because I had been having an encounter with my cynical side. I braced myself for this particular tryst with the unseen monster behind the bushes. In an anticlimactic fashion, the beast was none other than a stray dog that looked rather starved.


I had nothing to feed the poor chap, and so I just kept staring at him, not knowing what to do. Fortunately he didn’t care much for food, and started descending ahead of me. I felt it was the sign for me to get going as well. I tried to follow the dog, but he was too fast, and too well adjusted to the terrain, so I lost sight of him for a long time. I did notice him almost at the base again, quietly staring at the view in front of him. I looked back at the mountain, and had one last moment of regret. Just as I had reached the Papagni Math ( the starting point for the trek), I met an old woman on the road. She spoke in Kannada, and I had no way to understand what she was saying. Noticing my discomfort, she switched to using English words that she knew. I was surprised by what she was trying to tell me. I had taken the wrong path all along! The realization was more uplifting than anything. I somehow felt relieved to know that and a weight that was heavy on my soul was nowhere to be found. I thanked the kind lady and decided to attempt again, this time from the right path. I walked for half an hour on the right path, which was too simple and plain. Somehow in that instant, I felt like it wasn’t worth it. I now knew that this is something I could easily do. It was around 3:00 PM, and I was completely tired. So I turned back once again, this time without a guilt. It ‘s strange how these things work. Maybe I didn’t feel so bad because I had already abandoned the trek anyway.

I decided to walk my way back to Chickaballapur. It was much longer than I remembered, and the sunlight didn’t make it any easier. On the way back however, I got the opportunity to observe the vineyard. I am not sure if it was just a yard, or a winery. I would have spent more time in the yard, but it was too hot by then. So I finally gave up on walking back and hired an auto.


As the auto moved away from the vineyard, and back into the town, I couldn’t resist staring back at the mountain that had left me wanting more. It wasn’t even funny how the weather changed immediately and there were clouds all around the mountain. As I looked back at the vineyard, and Skandagiri, I promised myself to come here once again, and then again, until both of us fall in love with each other. As I pondered on the thought, my ride back to Banglore had arrived. I drifted off to sleep on the way back, and I kept thinking what could be better than a long and difficult love story?? Maybe the one that never happened …

Activities, and hobbies, Humanity, Life changes, Reflections and rumination, Travels & Treks

Tales from Banglore : Untill we fall in love (part 1)


There is something primal inside all of us. Something that keeps humming in the back our mind, reaching out to our senses. This primal spirit makes men and women do things they otherwise wouldn’t. And when we do listen to it, we swim across the channels, sail over the oceans, and sometimes we fall in love. For me, this inner call has always been about the mountains. They have been my only destination for as long as I remember. When I go trekking on a mountain, I feel at home. I am not even sure if wanderlust describes it best. I love mountains, and I am very sure they love me back. At least most of them do…

One of the first things I did after I shifted to Banglore, was searching for the nearby trekking spots. I was disappointed by the internet search, I had gotten accustomed to the insightful information provided by for all my treks so far. Nevertheless, I found out about Skandagiri, and it seemed like a decent trek. For the first time in a long time, I craved for company and wished this could have been a group trek. I tried to join some group for this trek, but then I just gave up. It felt like cheating.

So finally, I set out on a Saturday morning, on my own. My first goal was to reach Majestic terminus to catch a bus to Chickaballapur. This town is something special. It reminded me of Karjat a lot. Especially since its surrounded by around eight mountains ( Joy!). I will spare you the details of how I got to Chickaballapur. Lets just say, it took a lot of asking around near Majestic, to find the right terminus. After that it was easy as the breeze in my hair when I boarded down the bus. Chickaballapur is a highway town. The Banglore-Hyderabad National Highway passes through the town. I got down on the same highway, and asked for directions to Papagni Math, the base for Skandagiri trek. I was kindly advised to hire an autorickshaw. What surprised me, was my decision to do just that.

The auto driver was a character. I don’t want to give in to the stereotypes, but the guy was really right out of a bollywood movie. He kept talking incessantly about how the town is so great, and how he knows his way around it, he even offered to provide lodging services. I couldn’t help feeling a bit good about that. It was almost like being a part of the script. A new guy walks into town, in search of possibilities, and finds more than what he bargained for, but at the end of it, he walks away with triumph and love. Yeah, I sure as hell liked that feeling. My crazy train came to a stop when I looked around. Skandagiri was in sight now.

SkandagiriI was mesmerized by the sight. It had been long since my last trek, and this one was very important, as this was my first one in Karnataka. For some reason, the auto took a long time to reach the Papagni Math after this. It was irritating because I could see how close we were, and yet the road wouldn’t end! I have seen t his happen so often. The last part of any journey just tends to extend itself needlessly, like the ‘what-happened-to-them’ after the happily-ever-after. I was saved from making the mental list of all the other needless things, as the destination was here. I was in no mood to bargain, so I paid the amount he had asked for and started climbing.

First few minutes in any trek tell you a lot about the mountain. I have always felt that mountains are like people. You see a  beautiful girl walking down the street, you start filling in details about her that you don’t know. Maybe she works with little kids, maybe she is a struggling painter, a doctor with love of ice-cream. It’s the same with mountains I guess, you start filling in the blanks when you start. And just like with people, you start finding about how they really are when it’s a bit too late. My initial impression was a walk in the park, I thought to myself that I could probably get two treks done in a single day. As I started climbing, my notions about what should have been a simple trek changed.

An hour had passed, and I had only covered about one third of the distance. This was turning out to be a tough trek, I had slipped too often, scratched in the forest, and finally bamboozled about the right way. An impasse, which I had no clue how to resolve. Now, I think of myself as a mountain lover, and I have always managed to find my way, perhaps because mountains love me too. So far from home, completely on my own, on  strange mountain, I had begun to doubt the veracity of my beliefs. Men love the chase, we are hunters after all. So tough love is all the more sweeter. Except when it’s not going to happen at all. You can’t make someone fall in love with you when they don’t want you. When they detest the very thought of you. When they keep pushing you away…

Sometimes when you are to obsessed by the idea of love, you don’t know just when to give up. So you stay in the pursuit, and often harm yourself even more. That’s exactly what had happened with me and Skandagiri. Another couple of hours, a few more slips and many more scratches later, I had reached about three fourth of the distance. Again, there was no way I could have crossed the forest ahead without meeting a rather unpleasant end. So I sat down on a rock cliff and drank away some water in peace. This is just a ritual that I have, for when I get lost. Yes, similar things have happened in past. Usually I have relied on my in-built compass to navigate, and that has turned out well on every occasion. This time however, things were bad. I had changed route twice, traced my way back to a lower point once, and yet couldn’t manage to reach the top. Abandoning a trek is a sickening feeling. It makes you feel powerless, kind of like a break-up that you were not ready for. You keep sleeping in hopes that you would wake up to a different reality. Every time you wake up, you have a sickness in your heart, a sudden realization of everything that could not be. It’s the same feeling when you watch someone really close to you take their last shallow breaths. And you watch in absolute grief at the lines on the monitor that keep getting fewer and fewer. The stark naked truth never leaves your back. It’s the same feeling when you know you are not going to be selected after a job interview. Rejections, and failures tend to leave a mark on your soul. What’s worse, is the fact that every single one reminds you of all the previous ones. I did not like the the train of thought I was riding on, as I sat there. It was time to move on, and get down to reality. It was just an excursion, and not a life defining moment. That’s what I consoled myself with. Even if I had looked at it from my slightly grandiose version of a lovestory, I had to accept the truth. Not all love stories are pretty. Personally I have always loved the ones which are weird, slightly off the track, so why not look at this in the same way? Funny thing about rational thinking is the nagging feeling in the corner of your mind it can’t erase. This was going to be a long way down…

(To be continued)


Seven Blues

I have been listening to Blues a lot these days… Perhaps its an influence for what I wrote today. A little poem that is about a day from past.

Warm faces melting smiles,

Did you say hello from the shore

Let me take my canoe there

Life is good, it’s so fair

And I want to tell you so

When it’s time to go

And I want to love you then

Way past seven girl, way past seven

The wet music hymns,

Are you really so silent there

Or have I gone deaf like the sunset

Life is good, its so good

And I want to tell you so

Just when it’s time to go

The canoe sinks and so does love when

we were fooling around, and it’s just seven

I call it the ‘Seven Blues’.

Activities, and hobbies, Humanity

Melava + Poster for 2013


Last year I had designed this poster for Wake up Pune, an NGO that works with HIV positive men and women. They needed some help with designing a few leaflets and posters etc. I am not much of a designer, ( I guess I could do good if my life depended on it. ) I have never had the patience. So whenever I do even a mediocre design, it makes me really happy. 

It was thus a surprise that Wake Up Pune wanted to continue with this poster this year as well. I am told last year the Matrimonial Mela was the reason for three HIV positive couples to start a life together. I am happy that I could help in some small way. Wish all the best for Melava + 2013!! 

Relationships & Families, Society & Culture

All you need is love?

I met a friend recently, she was crying heart out. It seems that she had again fought hard with her boyfriend. Well as a guy friend, you always want to get out of these kind of situations. Because sometimes you can say something stupid and make it worse for them. I used to think I am much better than the rest, and quite a charmer. But all that I could say to her was ” He wasn’t worth it anyways, everyone hates him” which to my utter dismay made her cry even more. For all those who are wondering why I didn’t just say ” there there, everything will be alright” , well it just doesn’t have that effect when you say it on phone. On top of it, I always remember this one instance when the dialogue went something like ” There, there , are you there? Hello? ” . The moment I realised what I was saying, I burst out laughing.

Back on with the friend, truth to be told I am right ( like always). Her boyfriend does not really deserve her. Even if I decide to ignore the glaring rift between the visual appeal both lovers have, she outmatches him by sheer warmth and liveliness that she brings. That guy always looks like something crawled up and died in his soft spot, no real smile from him. I once saw this guys going without a laugh in a Lady Gaga video. That has to be something. Sometimes people don’t choose well, and yet they want to persist. My beautiful friend, bless her soul, loves this guy for all his weirdness, attitude, and mistrust. There has to be some kind of logic behind this. I have never seen a perfect couple. Why are we so averse to the idea of perfect. My guy friends claim that its a girl thing, that girls are always choosing potentially dangerous partners, for it provides an adventure that they crave. But seriously I have even met guys who do the same mistake. That thing they call love, is seriously injurious to health.  The question is, why do we like what is not normal, what is not easy. Why do we choose fights for ourselves that we could easily do without? An answer is difficult, but I found it a few days back just by accident, while I watched TV. In a SITCOM, someone jut mentioned Taming of the Shrew.

A fine piece of work, but I could never understand why bother so much. Stories like that, and assumption that there is some good inside everyone lead people to think that bitches and frogs of the world are just temperary forms, and inside that crust lay a golden heart, a princess or a prince, just waiting for a kiss to transform. But people get the rude shock when it does not happen with that first kiss, or many other firsts.  Now, even if we assume that the frog could turn into a prince, would you really take that chance? I mean who knows how many have taken that chance and kissed the little froggy ? Sounds too much like a rave party to me.